By Alan Keane, Account Executive
In today’s high-octane world of social media, instant gratification and 24/7 news cycle, PR and marketing companies can’t afford to be planning solely months ahead. Plan that far ahead with the short attention spans prevalent today, and there’s a good chance the message may no longer tap into the zeitgeist.
That said, the increasing shift towards jumping on a bandwagon simply isn’t a sustainable business model. It can involve compromising the key values of your client in order for quick hits, destabilising years of work to build a brand that has its own distinct message.
Brands like John Lewis (of the fancy Christmas ad fame) are renowned for adopting a steady and consistent approach to their marketing and PR.
It’s not always a case of slow and steady winning the race, of course. Ask Theresa May how well “strong and stable” went down in this year’s UK general election.
Re-active PR and Marketing must be implemented as part of an overall strategy. Certain quick-fire campaigns can be extremely effective, boost a brand’s popularity and standing, and have no negative effects on core messaging.
Skittles knocked it out of the park back in September of last year during the US Presidential campaign. An offensive tweet by Donald Trump Jr. comparing refugees to poison Skittles was swiftly responded to by parent company Mars. The response was swift and plaudits many.
The very fact that Mars “refrained” from promoting their product, promoted their product and intrinsically linked Skittles to positive values more than any pre-planned marketing campaign ever could.
Staying with Trump related marketing, Dove released an alternative facts ad campaign in January to promote a new deodorant.
Whilst acknowledged as a clever way to tap into a topical issue, Dove found themselves criticised in some circles for for only cosmetically (pun intended) addressing an important issue. Daryl Fielding, who was a key instigator of the brand’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” back in 2004, called it a missed opportunity to discuss Trump’s treatment of women.
On a larger scale, PR and marketing that taps into perceived public opinion has a tendency to draw criticism from savvy consumers who take a dim view of brands using causes to promote themselves.
A prime example of this would be the backlash towards corporate branding at Pride festivals and parades worldwide. In Dublin, London and further afield, tech companies such as Facebook and Google had a visible presence through t-shirts distributed to employees. Does the basic human decency of treating your LGBT employees with equal respect to other employees entitle you to put yourself on a pedestal? Many in the LGBT community and beyond were averse to this self-congratulatory attitude, leading to protests at some Pride events.
Ultimately, there is room for brands to adopt both long and short-term strategies when it comes to marketing and PR. The challenge is to promote your brand in a way that’s not transparently self-congratulatory, and to grasp public sentiment which can be as slippery as a floor of Skittles.
Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanKeane23